WHAT THE HELL

Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

The Big Bad Discovery Problem: How Is Anyone Going to Find Your Book?

Here’s an apt analysis of what’s wrong with publishing today, by friend of the blog Blaise Lucey. They still haven’t figured out how to market ebooks!

BlaiseLucey.com

Discover books marketing

At #FutureBook16, a conference based in London, authors, agents, publishers, and others converged to discuss the future of the book. Or, really, the future of publishing.

Spoiler: the industry doesn’t think it’s that bright. In his keynote, Tim Healy Hutchinson Hachette UK said that the book market is in “secular decline.”

The entire industry is shaking, reeling, seizing up. I’ve talked about the failure of the book industry to adapt to digital marketing strategies.

One statistic that I saw passing through the Twittersphere really leapt out at me:

In online searches, 60% of all book searches are deliberate.

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2 comments on “The Big Bad Discovery Problem: How Is Anyone Going to Find Your Book?

  1. islandeditions
    December 7, 2016

    Publishers have never wanted to market eBooks. When eBooks were first introduced, while I was still a sales rep, the repping agency I worked for would not allow publishers to list eBook editions in their catalogues, because our customers – the bookstores, and the libraries at that time – could not sell eBooks; therefore, the repping agency would receive nothing from the sale of eBooks. It was better to pretend that eBooks did not exist. It’s still the case that the vast majority of publishers’ customers (fewer of the booksellers, as so many have gone out of business, but not now the libraries who do circulate eBooks) do not have a way of selling eBooks, or at least they do not promote their sales in the same way as they do print books, so publishers are intent on protecting their primary market.

    Also, publishers generally only control rights for a specific area of the world and not the entire world. Easy to control with print. Not so easy to control those rights with eBooks.

    Thirdly, publishers receive a greater income from print copies (authors are paid lower royalties and after the initial printing costs and productionare covered, the rest is pure profit) and can charge more for print based on production costs. They keep those eBook prices for the same book artificially higher than print to slow the demand for the eBook and give the impression that print is still outselling electronic, thereby skewing sales figures. (That’s what all the fighting between the Big 5 and Amazon was all about.)

    So when this blogger Kevin has introduced us to says: The problem is, still, a failure to adapt. Not a lack of demand, he’s got it absolutely right. Although, I’d say more an “unwillingness” rather than “failure” to adapt. Those old dinosaur publishers have been losing their traditional control of the book market and they’re hiding their heads in the eSand, hoping the whole problem will just go away.

    (I met Michael Tamblyn at a small conference in Banff, Alberta, [2009, I think it was] when he was still working for Chapters/Indigo and gave a talk to the group of publishers attending about “eBooks and the new KOBO reading devices” Indigo was about to launch shortly after Amazon released their own new Kindle. He spoke then of the need for traditional publishers to adapt – after all, their two biggest customers in Canada, Amazon and Indigo/Chapters, were going to need “product” for sell to their customers who were going to be reading on these new devices. I remember being one of only a couple of people in that small gathering who was actually eager to listen and think of ways we might adapt to these changes, as an industry. I was surrounded by faces full of disbelief, fear, and, yes, disgust, at the thought that something “electronic” would ever become what it now has, less than 10 years later. After all, THEY (the publishers) weren’t about to read books on one of these devices, so why would they expect other readers would ever adapt to something new. Surprise!!

    And, by the way, many of those publishers who attended that conference are now either out of business or still trying to deny the existence of eBooks by not marketing them at all. They’re generally the first to say, “See! We told you these new-fangled eReaders would never amount to anything.” Kind of like those old horse-and-buggy proponents when Ford started up his new factory.)

    • Kevin Brennan
      December 7, 2016

      Thanks for the insights, Susan! It’s been obvious from the pricing on Amazon that suppressing ebooks in favor of print has been the strategy, and it’s probably working on a short-term basis. But it’s pretty clear that the ebook is here to stay, so why not join the party?

      Of course, I know from my own experience that the Big 5 aren’t all that great at marketing print books either. Parts Unknown got zero support from HarperCollins — the fate of most mid-list literary titles. Now, as then, it’s up to the author to do the heavy lifting with promotion.

      All I know is, I mostly buy ebooks these days. (Or get ’em from the library!)

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This entry was posted on December 6, 2016 by in Publishing.
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